TNF is essential for the development of glomerulonephritis, an immune-mediated disorder that is a major cause of renal failure worldwide. However, TNF has proinflammatory and immunosuppressive properties that may segregate at the level of the 2 TNF receptors (TNFRs), TNFR1 and TNFR2. TNFR1-deficient mice subjected to immune complex–mediated glomerulonephritis developed less proteinuria and glomerular injury, and fewer renal leukocyte infiltrates at early time points after disease induction, and this was associated with a reduced systemic immune response to nephrotoxic rabbit IgG. However, proteinuria and renal pathology were similar to those in wild-type controls at later time points, when lack of TNFR1 resulted in excessive renal T cell accumulation and an associated reduction in apoptosis of these cells. In sharp contrast, TNFR2-deficient mice were completely protected from glomerulonephritis at all time points, despite an intact systemic immune response. TNFR2 was induced on glomerular endothelial cells of nephritic kidneys, and TNFR2 expression on intrinsic cells, but not leukocytes, was essential for glomerulonephritis and glomerular complement deposition. Thus, TNFR1 promotes systemic immune responses and renal T cell death, while intrinsic cell TNFR2 plays a critical role in complement-dependent tissue injury. Therefore, therapeutic blockade specifically of TNFR2 may be a promising strategy in the treatment of immune-mediated glomerulonephritis.
Volker Vielhauer, George Stavrakis, Tanya N. Mayadas